A new group of remote health service graduates have been congratulated and welcomed into the RMIT alumni community, in ceremonies held across the Northern Territory.
At Ngukurr, Katherine and Alice Springs, 45 local health service workers graduated from RMIT’s unique Diploma of Community Services (Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health) and Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs programs.
The programs are delivered over nine months by RMIT teachers and a specialist team of expert mental health and addiction professionals, through monthly workshops held in the three Northern Territory towns.
Vice-Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE, congratulated graduates on their achievements and thanked them for sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience with the RMIT teaching team.
“The students, who are all experienced workers, have supported and informed the teaching team to greater understand and appreciate the realities of remote health work,” Martin said.
“Sharing their valuable knowledge and experience through conversations and narratives, which enrich the training environment and personalise their own situations, has driven home the importance and power of two-way learning.
“Thoughtful relationships, real friendships and lived experiences have been established between the teaching team and the students.
“These caring factors lie at the heart of the teaching team’s involvement and importantly, support the students’ success.”
A total of 87 students have successfully completed their studies with RMIT since the remote health service program began in 2011.
“By itself this is impressive, but what really impresses me and inspires me are the life-changing stories of the students who study with us,” Martin said, at the Alice Springs ceremony.
“Thank you to each and every student who has shared with me the challenges that you face on a daily basis.
“And thank you for continuing to strive to make it better and to make a difference within the communities you live and work.
“I am so pleased that the work RMIT is doing here can help and enable you to make a real difference.
“As RMIT graduates, I hope you will make the most of further educational opportunities that may come your way, and make education and learning your lifelong passions.”
Dale Campbell, CEO of local partner Sunrise Health, said the training programs had equipped health workers with additional skills to better manage social issues in local communities.
“A meaningful qualification provides an opportunity for individuals to get high-paid jobs and become self-sustainable,” Campbell said.
“The partnership with RMIT has not only been beneficial for individual students but shows the wider community, plagued by economic uncertainty, what can be achieved with further education.”
RMIT Coordinator of Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health studies, Xenia Girdler, said online or generic workbook-based education struggles to recognise the existing skills of community workers.
“This program revolves around offering hope and choice to people living and working in remote Australia through tailored and meaningful education and training,” she said.
“The course helps to address a skills shortage in alcohol and other drug management among NT health service providers.
“In face-to-face workshops we are able to teach the skills required to work with highly complex clients and communities.”
A new RMIT Foundation Trust dedicated to fund scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students was announced at the graduation ceremonies.
The scholarships for vocational graduate qualifications will support students from the Northern Territory to study at RMIT in Melbourne.
The RMIT University Diploma of Community Services and Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drug management programs are being delivered with funding from the NT Government and NT health service providers.
Story: Chanel Bearder